Ground Kontrol

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Ground Kontrol
Ground Kontrol.jpg
Ground Kontrol interior, pre-remodel
Ground Kontrol is located in Portland, Oregon
Ground Kontrol
Location within Portland, Oregon
Restaurant information
Established 1999
Street address 511 NW Couch St
City Portland, Oregon
County Multnomah
State OR
Postal/ZIP code 97209
Coordinates 45°31′26″N 122°40′33″W / 45.523804°N 122.675872°W / 45.523804; -122.675872
Website Ground Kontrol website

Ground Kontrol is a video game arcade and bar in Portland, Oregon, United States. Recognized as one of the best arcades in the US,[1][2][3] it is known for preserving games from the Golden Age of Video Arcade Games. It also serves as a venue for DJs and live music.[4] Also of note is its collection of 28 pinball tables.

Notable events[edit]

A high score competition was held jointly at Ground Kontrol, Aftershock RetroGames Arcade in Madison, Wisconsin and the Houston Area Arcade Group Expo in Houston, Texas in June 2004. Twin Galaxies maintained the results of the competitions for world record consideration.[5][6] Portland area resident Brandon Erickson also trained and attempted to achieve a record breaking high-score on Star Wars at Ground Kontrol in the spring of 2005.[7]

"Slugfest" is a fighting game tournament sponsored by and held at Ground Kontrol featuring a rotating selection of fighting games in a head-to-head elimination tournament.[8]

On September 2, 2008, Ground Kontrol hosted a launch party for Rock Band 2 in conjunction with Liquid Development and Someday Lounge, a venue also located in Portland's Old Town district. Attended by developers from Harmonix Music Systems, it provided a preview of the game ten days in advance of its official release.[9]

On September 8, 2009, The Beatles:Rock Band was made available one day prior to the official launch in time for a special Beatles centric Rock Band Tuesday.[10]

The second annual Portland Pinbrawl pinball tournament was held at Ground Kontrol on April 18, 2010. Contestant Jeff Gagnon won the tournament, with 2009's winner Cayle George placing 5th. The number two ranked player in the US, Keith Elwin, finished 9th overall.[11]

The third annual Portland Pinbrawl pinball tournament was held at Ground Kontrol on April 17, 2011.[12]

In 2010, Ground Kontrol was the winner of three arcades competing in Stride gum's "Save the Arcades 2" contest.[13] The owners have used the $25,000 prize to help fund a full remodeling of the arcade and to buy more games.


On December 1, 2010, Ground Kontrol moved to a temporary location at 32 NW 5th Ave, and then to a second temporary location at 10 NW 5th Ave on December 10. The interior at the original location was stripped to the studs so that a remodel could take place. During the renovation, a kitchen and new seating were added, the restrooms were moved and the decor took on a Tron-esque vibe.

Local Portland firm Jessica Helgerson Interior Design worked with the owners of Ground Kontrol to design the revised interior space.[14] Custom lighting systems featuring heavy use of LEDs and fiber optics were designed and constructed and added to the remodel. The new bathrooms feature Pac-Man tilework and translucent, backlit counter tops. Combined with hanging lamps in polyhedral shapes and fiber optic cable highlighting the edges of the interior arches a TRON inspired interior was realized.[15][16]

Jessica Helgerson was presented with a 2011 Merit Award for the Ground Kontrol bathroom design by Interior Design magazine.[17]

Music Selection[edit]

A sound system inside Ground Kontrol is used for background music. In the evening, local and visiting DJ's play different types of music varying by the day of the week. The sound system and stage is utilized for Rock Band Tuesdays which also serves to provide the music for that evening.[citation needed]


Ground Kontrol was recognized in the "Best of the City" list for 2008 in Portland Monthly Magazine for Rock Band Tuesdays. [18] In July, 2010, Sunset Magazine included Ground Kontrol in the "Best of Portland: Hotels, Dining, and Attractions 2010" publication calling it the "Old Hot Spot" in Portland's Chinatown.[19] The San Francisco Chronicle listed Ground Kontrol as one of "Five places to revisit the '80s".[20]

Arcade and Pinball Games[edit]

Arcade Games[edit]

  • 1943 (in "Trigger Zone" Cabinet)
  • 720°
  • Alien Vs. Predator
  • Area 51 (in "Area 51/Maximum Force" cabinet)
  • Area 51: Site 4
  • Arkanoid (in "Multicade" cabinet)
  • Asteroids
  • Bad Dudes Vs. DragonNinja (in "Street Justice" cabinet)
  • Battle Garegga (in "Trigger Zone" cabinet)
  • Battlezone
  • Big Buck Hunter
  • Bubble Bobble
  • BurgerTime
  • Bubbles
  • Bust-A-Move Again (Tetris Multi-Game #2)
  • Centipede (also in "Multicade" cabinet)
  • Championship Sprint
  • Cruisn Exotica x 2
  • Crystal Castles (in "Multicade" cabinet)
  • Dance Dance Revolution Extreme
  • Defender
  • Dig Dug (also in “Namco Classics” cabinet)
  • Discs of TRON
  • Donkey Kong
  • Double Dragon II: The Revenge
  • Dr. Mario
  • Dragon Blaze (in "Trigger Zone" cabinet)
  • Final Fight (in "Street Justice" cabinet)
  • Frogger
  • Galaga
  • Gauntlet: Dark Legacy
  • Golden Tee 99
  • Gorf
  • House Of The Dead
  • Joust (also in “Multi-Williams” cabinet)
  • Mappy (in “Namco Classics” cabinet)
  • Mario Bros.
  • Marvel Vs. Capcom 2
  • Maximum Force (in "Area 51/Maximum Force" cabinet)
  • Millipede (in "Multicade" cabinet)
  • Missile Command
  • Moon Patrol
  • Mortal Kombat II
  • Mr. Driller 2 (in downstairs “Tetris Multi-Game" cabinet)
  • Ms. Pac-Man (fast) (x2)
  • NBA Jam
  • NFL Blitz 99
  • Ninja Gaiden (in “Street Justice” cabinet)
  • Pac-Man (fast) (also in “Namco Classics” cabinet)
  • Pac-Man Battle Royale
  • Paperboy
  • Punch-Out!!
  • Q*bert
  • Raiden II
  • Rally-X (in “Namco Classics” cabinet)
  • Rampage World Tour
  • Robotron: 2084 (also in “Williams Multi-Game” cabinet)
  • San Francisco Rush 2049
  • The Simpsons
  • Sinistar
  • Smash TV
  • Soulcalibur II
  • Splat!
  • Stargate
  • Star Wars (1983, upright cabinet version)
  • Street Fighter III: Third Strike
  • Street Fighter Alpha 3
  • Strikers 1945 (in "Trigger Zone" cabinet)
  • Sunset Riders
  • Super Street Fighter II: Turbo
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
  • Tekken Tag Tournament
  • Tempest
  • Tetris
  • Toobin
  • Track & Field
  • Tron (upright cabinet version)
  • Two Crude (in "Street Justice" cabinet)
  • Vampire Savior
  • Virtua Cop 2
  • World Class Bowling Deluxe
  • X-Men (six-player version)
  • Xevious (in “Namco Classics” cabinet)

Pinball Machines[edit]


Since opening in 1999,[21] Ground Kontrol has undergone several changes. The arcade was originally created and opened by Betty Farrier, and Kneel Cohn of the bands Warshow Angels[22] and The Dead Stars On Hollywood.[23] In March 2003 it came under new ownership by Timewarp Incorporated. Also of note is the September 2004 move to a new location[24] and the addition of a beer and wine bar in May 2005. Guitar Hero nights began in the summer of 2007 and switched to Rock Band on November 20, 2007, that game's release date. On December 11, 2011, Ground Kontrol's announced "Ground Kontrol Now Serving Mixed Drinks: Starting at 5PM tonight, Ground Kontrol is officially a full-service bar."[25]

In the 2005 film The Comedians of Comedy, Brian Posehn visits Ground Kontrol's original location on SW 12th Ave in Portland, OR.

The 2006 documentary film "High Score" features an interview with co-owner Anthony Ramos at Ground Kontrol.[26]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Insert Coins Here: The Best Video Game Spots In The U.S.". Complex Magazine. August–September 2005. 
  2. ^ "The Coolest Arcades in America". Tips & Tricks. August 2007. 
  3. ^ Duerson, Adam (October–November 2004). "The Last Great American Arcades". Sync Magazine. 
  4. ^ Machado, Jessica (July 30, 2008). "Is it real ... or is it 'Rock Band'? Who cares?". The Oregonian. Retrieved March 13, 2009. 
  5. ^ "Classic Video Gaming Championships Across America". March 30, 2006. Retrieved March 13, 2009. 
  6. ^ "Ground Kontrol: news coverage / interview on Fox 12". KPTV, a Meridith Corporation Station. June 4, 2006. Retrieved March 13, 2009. 
  7. ^ Hartley, Brandon (March 30, 2005). "Return of the Jedi". Willamette Week. Retrieved May 15, 2012. 
  8. ^ Cavalli, Earnest (February 26, 2009). "Saturday! Street Fighter! Ground Kontrol! Nihilism?". The Portland Mercury. Retrieved March 13, 2009. 
  9. ^ "Rock Band 2 Hits Ground Kontrol 10 Days Early". Portland Mercury. 2008-08-28. Retrieved 2008-10-04. 
  10. ^ Carlin, Peter (September 9, 2009). "Video game and CD releases reignite Beatlemania in Portland". The Oregonian. Retrieved September 9, 2009. 
  11. ^ "Pinball wizards converge on Ground Kontrol". KATU. 2010-04-18. Retrieved 2010-04-24. 
  12. ^ "Portland Pinbrawl 2011". Crazy Flipper Fingers. Retrieved 2011-03-30. 
  13. ^ "Save the Arcade's 2". Stride (gum). 2010-04-21. Retrieved 2010-04-24. 
  14. ^ Helgerson, Jessica. "In Process - Ground Kontrol Arcade". Jessica Helgerson. Retrieved 2011-03-30. 
  15. ^ Vorenburg, Sue. "Ground Kontrol to reboot after $200,000 face-lift". Daily Journal of Commerce. Retrieved 2011-03-30. 
  16. ^ Henrikson, Erik. "Inside the New and Improved Ground Kontrol". Index Newspapers, LLC. Retrieved 2011-03-30. 
  17. ^ "2011 BEST OF YEAR PROJECTS: MERITS". Retrieved 2012-03-30. 
  18. ^ Barker, Brian (August 2008). "Best of the City 2008". Portland Monthly Magazine. Retrieved March 14, 2009. 
  19. ^ "Best of Portland: Hotels, Dining, and Attractions 2010". Sunset Magazine. July 2010. Retrieved July 27, 2010. 
  20. ^ Kelley, Jennifer (2011-03-13). "Five places to revisit the '80s". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2011-03-30. 
  21. ^ Geigerich, Andy (March 10, 2000). "Captivated by retro games". Portland Business Journal. Retrieved April 11, 2009. 
  22. ^
  23. ^ Kryza, Ap (December 11, 2000). "Through different eyes". The Seattle Times. Retrieved October 20, 2008. 
  24. ^ Machado, Jessica (September 26, 2007). "Game On". Willamette Week. Retrieved March 13, 2009. 
  25. ^ "Ground Kontrol blog". December 11, 2011. Retrieved December 13, 2011. 
  26. ^ "HIGH SCORE a Documentary by Jeremy Mack". 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 45°31′26″N 122°40′32″W / 45.523897°N 122.675588°W / 45.523897; -122.675588